Posted on 25 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews




A few weeks ago we had this discussion on the shoutbox about Berserk. I was really looking forward to it, but people were saying that it did not hold up, compared to its manga. And fair enough, the anime is only 25 episodes long, while the manga has been running since 1990 and still hasn’t finished, meaning that there was no way for the anime to be able to completely tell a story that wouldn’t conclude, even thirteen years after its airdate. The original manga of Berserk also seems to be one of the most well received mangas out there.

The thing is though, and most people who have been reading this blog for a while have been very much aware of this, but I’m terrible at reading manga. Blame a lack of time, but series like Blade of the Immortal, Bokura no, Himitsu Top Secret, Pandora Hearts: I loved all of them despite being somehow unable to just grab and check out their respective mangas. Even though some of them made huge changes and none of them get to the real meat of their source material, I’m still a huge fan of them as standalone, albeit very incomplete stories, based on manga that are God knows how good. I’ve been stuck at the Bokura no’s thirtieth chapter for years now, despite it being awesome just like its anime counterpart.

In any case, Berserk is the same: ridiculously incomplete, ending with one ridiculous hell of a cliff-hanger, but it’s also a ridiculously well executed anime.

I t really immediately sets itself apart from all of the other fantasy series that were spread across the nineties. The atmosphere is dark and gritty, it doesn’t try to glorify its battles (this series is completely brutal when it needs to be, and never tries to hide it), and the battles themselves are very well drawn, detailed and animated. The series quickly stars focusing on battles on a larger and larger scale, and yet the series consistently stays many levels of believability above what you’d usually expect in series that focus on medieval warfare.

What really sold me to Berserk was its character-development, though. Even though I have no idea how good the character-development in the manga must be, the anime really makes excellent use of its time to put as much meaning as possible into its three main characters. The plot is entirely meant to explore them, push them forwards to their goals, and get the best out of their characters while remaining perfectly paced so that each event flows into the other.

As a contrast though, the rest of the cast pales in comparison. They’re mostly static and really not the most interesting. There are unfortunately a lot of episodes that focus on them, and I feel that this series would have been even better when it made its characters, especially the people who end up on the other end of Guts’ blade, a bit more down to earth and give them a bit more character, rather than having Guts kill the same hordes of punching bags over and over again.

Really though, just for Guts, Casca and Griffith I’m really glad to have watched this series. It’s really one of the most mature action titles out there, both with its gore and the way it uses this gore to look at its characters. As for the ending… I don’t think I really need to describe in how many ways it gave us the middle-finger, but I nevertheless consider this series to have an amazing finale.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Slow, but very solid, and absolutely brutal when it needs to be.
Characters: 9/10 – The side characters are nothing special. The main characters are wonderfully developed, though, with a lot of meaning put into them.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Gorgeous artwork from the nineties. Plus, its soundtrack was composed by Susumu Hirasawa.
Setting: 8/10 – A detailed look into medieval warfare, but ridiculously incomplete.

Suggestions:
Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen
Gilgamesh
Gungrave

20 Responses

  1. DmonHiro says:

    Hey, Miura: FU. Stop playing IdolMaster PLEASE!!!

  2. kuromitsu says:

    Sometimes I think I’m the only person who thinks the anime is not incomplete. Yes, we don’t know how Gatts will battle Griffith/Femto afterwards, we don’t know if he ever defeats him, etc. But that wasn’t the point of the anime. The anime was about the relationship between Gatts and Griffith, and Gatts story, from having nothing to finding and having things, and losing them again, friendship turning into hatred, and so on. It doesn’t even end with a cliffhanger: the last episode is actually the first one. I personally don’t even care what happened afterwards. In the light of what the anime was about it’s utterly irrelevant.

  3. YotaruVegeta says:

    This anime is excellent. I wish the rumors about a remake/continuation were true. I will be reading the manga regardless.

    I think that this is not an anime that will turn off younger anime fans. It’s got a 90s look, which will not turn people away as much as earlier decades would.

    Even if the look was jarring to younger fans, the content is so engaging that you can’t help but be sucked in.

    It’s ESSENTIAL anime, people! :)

  4. Anca says:

    About the manga: the only detail really missing is that Gutts (I don’t think it counts as a spoiler) had been raped as a child.

    Other than that… Griffith’s torture and rescue had been much more underwhelming in the manga, and the climax gore-fest was much much more gory. Oh, and the Caska/Gutts sex scene was a lot more unnecessarily extended.

    The anime covered what was best of the manga, imho, and your score is perfect.

  5. Frost says:

    This, along with Claymore, are the 2 series which need remakes the most when the manga ends.. And I cant wait for that

  6. pricklypete says:

    Just like Kuromitsu said above Berserk is not incomplete. It successfully brings the viewer full circle back to the beginning, especially if you watch the final scene after the credits. Anyways good review glad to see you give Berserk the respect it deserves. Although imo its worth at least a 90.

  7. Roldan says:

    Yeah, great anime. you gotta check out the abridged series also, it’s great.

    btw, you might have noticed it but Guin Saga was one of the inspirations when Miura made Berserk.

  8. Puran says:

    I always liked the ending of Berserk. It’s incomplete yeah, but you can sum it up as :

    “all hell broke loose (quite literally) and everything got fucked up, THE END”

    and that’s an awesome ending in my book :)

    The only bad thing is the first episode and that final epilogue-ish shot. If those two things were missing I could very successfully pretend that berserk is a complete anime.

  9. tomtom says:

    They at least chose the strongest part of the manga to animate. The rest of the manga consist mostly of guts vs. the evil monsters (don’t get me wrong, it’s still spectacular and awesome but not AS good as the story-arc covering his youth).

  10. darkerthanblackswordsman says:

    Best. Anime. Ever. (if you hadn’t already guessed from my nickname).

    Though I agree with most people that the manga is indeed better, I still think the anime made pretty much all the right decisions (except the first episode which should have been cut completely). The ending may not be “complete” but honestly, the story of The Band of the Hawk is finished – what comes after is awesome, but very different in every way except character-development. The only other fault I have this series is the animation, but hard to blame an old series for that. It’s just that this is just an area where the manga excels to a degree that can be haunting…

  11. synkronized says:

    “As for the ending… I don’t think I really need to describe in how many ways it gave us the middle-finger, but I nevertheless consider this series to have an amazing finale.”
    I chuckled pretty hard at that. Definitely a big F you to the viewer. Mainly because Berserk the Anime is the prequel/gaiden to the Berserk story proper. Though if you want the definition of “Rock bottom” I think Guts life story is a good synonym.

  12. anon says:

    I completely agree that the Berserk anime is great on its own, even while the manga is better still. It tells the story of the Golden Age and the background of the main trio beautifully. As for other characters being static – let’s consider that they all die in the end, and the fact that (and this is established in episode 1) the whole anime is essentially a prequel to “current events”. I think there’s not much room for other characters to grow. Plus, Berserk has always been about Guts and Griffith first and foremost (much more character development for side characters happens later on in the manga, though).

    I’m not so sure about your score with regards to production values, though. There are many, many still frames in Berserk, more so than in any other nineties anime that I’ve watched.

  13. Pax says:

    All fans of epic dark fantasy should watch this, actually if you like anime and epic dark fantasy there really is no other anime to watch…maybe Juuni Kokuki.
    So you gave this 9/10 for Production Values. Yeah the soundtrack was great but I think there were way too many still frames during the battles. If Cowboy Bebop does not get 10/10 at this category I will definitely find that very suspicious lol

    btw:
    “The thing is though, and most people who have been reading this blog for a while have been very much aware of this, but I’m terrible at reading manga. Blame a lack of time…”
    Well, you need a lot less time reading all the Berserk volumes available than you need to watch the anime. By any chance, do you not like reading novels? I noticed that many people who don’t read books also don’t really care for manga.

  14. YotaruVegeta says:

    Claymore, which is basically a successor to Berserk as far as big sword fantasy goes, disappointed me in the way it depicted action. There was too little actual choreographed fighting compared to all the sword slash images that took the place of action.

    Like Berserk, Claymore does a good job of making a flashback story worth watching; Berserk does it better.

    I wasn’t totally on-board Claymore until we learn of Teresa of the Faint Smile and Clare’s origin.

  15. ManuOtaku says:

    I have watched tons of anime, and let me tell you there is not better first opening episode than this one, it leaved me wanted for more and i did it watched in 2 days, i dont read manga becuase i dont like to read books never like it in fact, i more visual that is what i do like anime better,for that i hope the rumors for the continuation of this series turns true, it is a great series that deserves an ending, in the anime version, and also claymore of course 8D.

    It is a very dark series with great story

  16. escaru says:

    This was probably the best time to watch this, since a new anime project for Berserk was just announced.

  17. Darknives says:

    First, I’m a really fan of the Berserk manga.

    Now about the anime, it’s really nice, how could it not be? It’s like the manga but animated. The only “problem” is that it just tells the beginning of the manga and then stops as things are rising to the next level.

    It’s kinda like Gantz’ first season. Although they did screw that one with the second season.

    I just hope, for this two shows, since they are already getting a little old, someone takes them and does the same thing they did with Fullmetal, a new, high production show that follows the manga.

    At least Gantz will probably happen soon, if the live-action movie does well.

  18. Souther says:

    Berserk’s ending is one of those that suffers from a lack of contextual closure, for obvious reasons, because the ongoing manga remains unfinished and the creators behind the anime adaptation didn’t try to come up with an original conclusion…but it still worked in thematic terms. I believe it was, all in all, a better solution than what Claymore ended up doing in a similar situation.

    Now that a new animated continuation seems to be on the horizon, I hope we are finally able to see some of the more interesting and exciting parts of the manga come alive.

  19. YotaruVegeta says:

    Well, I’m happy that this blog post is old news. WE HAVE NEW BERSERK COMING!

    I just hope they get the same artists to do the music, or uphold the same spirit of the soundtrack, because it’s part of what makes the anime incredible.

  20. Badesh says:

    They did! Super awesome Soundtrack, strong visual effects, brutal & fast action scenes but almost NO story & chara developement. i really wish they had done another anime series with 72+ episodes like naoki urasawas monster.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:53 AM)
    I’ve seen Robot artbooks in the bookstores all the time, but never bought one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:51 AM)
    I think with robot I grabbed random chapters of it and did it that way as is the case with me and episodic stuff.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:48 AM)
    *here
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:48 AM)
    @Bagel: Didn’t know anyone else on hear read robot. Been so very long since I did so…but I never read his bit…
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:45 AM)
    lol…is that his only officially translated work?
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:45 AM)
    @Emma oh wow…Dowman Sayman was in a Robot anthology (anthology book series of various artists started by Range Murata).
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:37 AM)
    I keep telling myself I should read tokyo esp on the basis its getting an anime adaptation but I never liked the ga-rei manga…it paled in comparison to the anime for me and I know esp shares ga-reis author =<
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:31 AM)
    *reads brynhildr* Ends up preferring Kotori to Kazumi…
    SCIENCE!
    What sorcery is this !XD
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:28 AM)
    @Bagel: Thats similar for me I think its a great series that catches interest and engages but I don’t go on a rave about it, won’t read/watch every story in it either.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 08:26 AM)
    this week’s mushishi was nice too, although I can’t seem to muster the intensity of emotions that others seem to have for this series.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Clipboard07

Ping Pong – 02

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond […]

Clipboard02

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 02

We can never quite get rid of magic fights at a school, now can we, Jojo. Ah well, I forgive it this time, just due to how hilarious it looks seeing these ridiculously bulky men walk around pretending to be high school students. It’s just so over the top, and yet Jojo sets itself apart […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi Season 2 – 02

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode. I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I […]

Clipboard02

Mushishi – Tokubetsu-hen

Mushishi holds a really special place in my heart. Back in November 2005, when I started up this blog, Mushishi was one of the first shows I picked up to cover weekly. At first I didn’t think much behind it: it just looked interesting and I wanted to cover it, but as it went on […]

Seasonal Anime Podcast – First Impressions – 2013 Fall Anime Season

Hey everyone, I participated in a podcast again, together with Deadlights (Deadlight’s Anime Blog) Flawfinder (Standing on my Neck) and Slashe (Behind the Nihon Review) with two new members, Landon (Mecha Guignol) and Tom (Nigorimasen) Today we talked about the past Fall season. You can find the link here, enjoy: http://deadlightanime.blogspot.nl/2013/10/seasonal-anime-podcast-first_12.html

Clipboard07

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Review – 89/100

There are a lot of ways to adapt something. Shounen battle series tend to very quickly fall into a very dull variation of that: really slow pacing that goes on forever with long boring drawn out battles that all look like each other. David Production looked at them, and just said “we can do better!” […]

Clipboard06

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 26

Oh Jojo. What an ending. I did not expect what would happen here at all. Perhaps the ending was not as impressive as with Psycho Pass or From the New World, but still this is every way in which a shounen series should end. You hear that, other shounen series? Watch this for how endings […]

Clipboard05

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 25

Okay, so I thought that this was the final episode so I was ready to go all out. And then at the end of this episode there was this “To be continued”-message. Yeah, I was confused. But boy, am I glad, because it means that there will be one more episode of Jojo. They managed […]

Clipboard06

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 23 & 24

And here are the penultimate episodes of Jojo. And seriously, I loved the fights here. The creators really went to the extreme, while keeping true to their philosophy of putting huge over the top powers on one hand, and really delicate things on the other. One one hand you have Stroheim yelling like crazy, while […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]

Clipboard01

Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]